Modraks Keep Family Tradition Alive By Making Their Own Products.
For more than 50 years, Modrak Products has been making everything from window cleaners to waxes to sweeping compounds. Blue Flash, a stain-cleaner used on engines and floors, is just one of their many products.
Larry and Judy Modrak own the company, which was started by Larry’s parents, Michael and Ann. They remember the days when Ann would work with huge rolls of yarn, making her own mops.
“My father-in-law started this business selling paper supplies,” said Judy Modrak. “The warehouse was on the back of their home, and he started with soap and wax manufacturing. He wasn’t a chemist, he would just perfect his formulas by reading.”
Today the company has two warehouses for a total of 17,000 square feet. Yet of the 10 employees, five are still family.
The process begins with raw materials placed into 600-gallon vats and mixed. Packaging is done right on the premises.
“The formulas have been perfected over the years, but it takes a lot of knowledge to get them right,” Judy said. “My husband can just walk in here and know when something is off.”
While schools, restaurants and auto mechanics made up the bulk of the business, about 25 percent of sales come from the retail walk-in trade. The company packages its product in varying proportions, from one- to 55-gallon containers.
In addition to making cleaning supplies, the company also has a second aspect to its business: stripping and sanding school gym floors. Where they used to do a single floor in a summer, new technology now allows them to do more than 30 floors in a season.
“We have college kids who will come in and work for us every summer,” she said. “Lots of them know that this is where they can work while they are in school.”
They admit business has changed in recent years.
“Schools are now 80 percent of our business,” Larry said. “In the ’70s, the steel mills were 80 percent of the business. We had to make the change so we could stay in business.”
The Modraks realize that they have to be more aggressive.
“Today you have to have sales people who will go to your accounts and do demonstrations,” Judy said. “In this economy, you have to fight harder. .. When you say you actually manufacture it, that becomes more important to people than other products they will buy off the shelf.”